Henry, Bowman strong for Nevada baseball | NevadaAppeal.com

Henry, Bowman strong for Nevada baseball

Appeal Sports Writer

RENO – Nevada’s baseball team played somebody other than itself for the first time since the WAC championship game last May, and for two Pack players it was a special day.

Dayton graduate Matt Bowman missed almost the entire 2006 season with a shoulder/arm injury and redshirted, and Carson grad Aaron Henry redshirted last season after transferring from Western Nevada College.

Both were excited to play in a competitive situation again, and both played exceptionally well in Saturday’s scrimmage against Lassen College, which saw the Wolf Pack pound out 59 hits in 18 innings.

Bowman hit for the cycle, going 4-for-7 with a homer, four runs scored and three RBI. Henry also went 4-for-7 with three stolen bases and two runs scored.

“It was weird going that long without competing against an outside team,” Bowman said. “I’ve been able to swing a bat since about the middle of the summer. It (swing and shoulder) is coming around slowly. The shoulder feels great and the swing will work itself out.

“It (the swing) felt good today. It’s the best I’ve hit the ball since we started in the fall.”

No doubt Nevada coach Gary Powers is happy to see Bowman, who hit .376 two seasons ago, back from injury.

“I’m glad to see him start to get back to 100 percent,” Powers said. “He’s as healthy as he’s been in a year.”

Bowman still is unable to throw well enough to play a position, but Powers said he is on a throwing program, and that he will be tested in the weeks ahead.

“Everyday it gets a little better and stronger,” Bowman said. “The next step is that I’ll go out to second base and throw it hard to first. I haven’t done that yet.”

When he is fully 100 percent, the question is, where do you play him? Bowman was a shortstop at Dayton, played second base for the Sierra Sun Devils during the summer of his high school years, and has played third base and left field for Nevada.

“He can play so many positions,” Powers said. “He could easily play three different places. He’s going to have to fit in (somewhere).”

No matter where he ends up, he’ll displace a pretty good player because the Pack appears to be two deep everywhere on the field, a far cry from previous years.

“It depends on where they need me,” Bowman said. “Wherever they need me is fine. I could care less where I play. It’s kind of fun moving around. I do want to play a position. I think I’m better suited to play position instead of just being a DH. I think there are other players better suited to be a DH.”

You know he’ll be in there somewhere, because of his offensive skills. He’s driven in 59 runs in his first two seasons, and there is no doubt he could be a 50-RBI guy if he stays healthy the whole season.

Henry made an out in his first at-bat, and then strung together four straight hits before striking out in consecutive at-bats at the end of the day.

“I was real excited to play,” Henry said. “I’ve had so many injuries over the past (three) years. I got antsy last year watching. I’m definitely ready to be part of this team.

“I felt good today. My swing is starting to come around. I’ve been working a lot on my timing. I was staying up on my front toe too long. Coach Powers has been working with me on that. I’m getting that front toe down better. I feel like I’m picking up stuff well.”

Hitting is the biggest question mark with Henry, and if that aspect of his game continues to improve it will be hard to keep him off the field. He brings some real positives to the team – defense and the ability to steal bases.

“He’s been working hard, and I’m seeing daily improvement,” Powers said. “Unfortunately, we have eight or nine guys that can play the outfield, and they all have attributes that are positive and can help the team. Aaron is in a battle for one of those spots.”

Henry is well aware of his predicament, and he’s doing his best to make Powers’ decision on who plays and who sits a tough one.

“It seems like every one of the outfielders today got three or four hits,” Henry said. “There is going to be good competition to get some time. The competition makes our team a lot better. If somebody gets hurt or isn’t producing, somebody else will be ready to step right in. It makes it tough to get playing time, but it keeps everybody working hard. I’m working as hard as I can.”

Notes: Three Carson City players are listed on the Lassen College roster – Royal Good, Jason Alcasas and Jesse Rasner. Good batted leadoff in both nine-inning segments, and collected four hits … Nevada hit six homers, including two by Dan Eastham and one each by Bowman, Tyson Jaquez and Shaun Kort.